Are You Tasting the Pith? - 27th February 05
So, then, returning to the purpose of AYTTP? again, beer. What we have this week is a presentation pack of four ales from the Oakleaf Brewery in Gosport, Hants.
First up, Oakleaf Bitter (3.8% abv) is their pale, standard "session" ale (no doubt we shall soon have to stop using that term, redolent as it is of naughty binge drinking). Aroma-wise, it's nothing extraordinary - a hint of toffeeish malt, a good waft of slightly citric hops, perhaps with a slight floral hint. Certainly enough to set the mouth watering, which is exactly what the beer does once it hits. The lovely tangy hops spritz across the tongue, livening up each successive mouthful, and the pleasingly bitter aftertaste lingers at the edge of the tongue. Very easy to drink, although surprisingly forceful on the hops in the finish, which is a good thing in my book.
Heart Of Oak (4.5% abv) is an altogether darker kettle of naval allusions. On the nose, it's immediately more complex, hinting initially at something as complex as Greene King Strong Suffolk Ale - very complex, perhaps with slightly feral animal notes - which is meant to be a lot more complimentary than it sounds. To taste, it's a great example of a classic English ale - the dried-fruity, slightly berryish malt having a hint of sweetness, then the hops come through, dry, slightly orange-pith, and then the two flavours combine to leave a long, complex, bitter chocolate orange finish. Perhaps a little bitter for some tastes, but I can never have too many hops.
Hole Hearted (4.7% abv) flaunts its hop credentials on the rear label (Cascade), which should give the beer a zesty fruit and floral kick, and by Jove I think they've got it - superbly well-balanced, less assertively bitter than the previous two, but still brilliantly bright on the tongue, drying nicely in the finished, leaving a slightly floral zestiness behind. Very drinkable, but sadly, we must move on.
Finally, Blakes Gosport (5.2% abv) bitter pours porter-dark, with a good foamy head that clings to the glass. The nose is heavily chocolate-malt accented, and the beer carries on in this theme, not a whole lot of fruit, but again, a good bitter hop finish to accompany the long bitter chocolate finish. Again, quite dry and bitter, but none the worse for it
Great quality bottled beers, and I bet they must be superb on tap. I never thought I'd say this, but the denizens of Gosport are lucky people indeed.
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